The Five F's of Nutrition

Food, Fluids, Frequency , Function, Flavours.

The 5 F’s of Nutrition!

Jeni Pearce

Health & Sports Dietitian,

Food – Choose a wide variety of food from all the major food groups and choose food before supplements. Eat at least 6 breads and cereals (some wholegrain), 5 or more servings of fruit (at least two, one high in vitamin C) and vegetables (at least 3 servings with one coloured and one dark green), eat lean protein choices from meat and dairy or alternative sources and small intakes of foods high in fat, salt and sugar. There are no magic foods. Eating a wide variety of foods is the key.

Fluids – Balanced hydration is important. Water intoxication (excessive hydration) can be as great a concern as a lack of fluid or dehydration. A range of fluids are needed from water, sports drinks, juice, soups, lower fat milks to hot chocolate, tea and coffee. The key is to choose wisely at the right time and for the best performance at work, school and in training and competitions for the athlete, as well as for health. Endurance events and exercise in the heat require special treatment.

Frequency – When to eat. The number of meals and snacks or mini-meals will be different for each individual and will vary with schedules, work and school days, to training and competitive events for the athlete. Plan ahead for changing schedules, extra work hours, after school activities and events. There may be a need to take food and fluids to events and training, especially if suitable foods are in limited supply. Sometimes timing is just as important as what is eaten and the drinks chosen. Practice all food choices in advance. Missing meals and snacks can have adverse effects on performance as well as brain function.

Function – Knowing how food and fluids work in the body for health and to assist performance makes it easier to make the right choice of food and fluid at the right time. Carbohydrate foods are the preferred fuel for the muscle during activity; for brain function, protein has a role, and fluids reduce the risk of undesirable effects due to dehydration. The health functions of foods and nutrients (such as fibre, antioxidants, and essential fats) for a healthy body must also be considered (for example, looking after the immune system).

Flavours – Food that does not taste good is no fun and does not encourage healthier and more suitable food choices. Recipes may need to be adapted, and some altered to suit the health needs of individuals and the training and competition needs of the athlete. Learn to cook, how to read labels and experiment with new foods, recipes and meals where possible. Boredom and flavour fatigue may lead to poorer food choices and a reliance on high fat takeaway foods and limited food variety.

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